OxBlog

Friday, April 21, 2006

# Posted 12:48 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

FOUR-STAR GENERAL ACCUSES DEFENSE SECRETARY OF INTIMIDATION: Retired Air Force Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman told journalist George C. Wilson that things had changed dramatically after the new Secretary of Defense arrived. Wilson writes that
[Fogleman] did not feel he could dissent vigorously without being penalized in the minds of his civilian bosses. "Your position was not looked upon as a legitimate disagreement from a professional but as an act of disloyalty."
Fogleman resigned as Air Force Chief of Staff and entered retirment in order to protest the Secretary's refusal to accept Fogleman's professional opinion about who was responsible for unnecessary US casulaties in the Gulf.

Fogleman's quote is from p.43 of Wilson's book This War Really Matters...which was published back in 2000 when Bill Cohen was the Secretary of Defense. In other words, this bit of information disrupts a lot of narratives being spun out of the recent attacks on the current secretary.

First of all, it should be clear that what certain retired generals are saying about Rumsfeld in no way represents a unprecedented break with a supposed tradition of silence. When Clinton was president, the retired generals spoke out as well. And before that, too. (And by generals, I mean to include admirals, but you get my point.)

Conversely, accusations of unprecedented heavy-handedness directed at Rumsfeld should placed in the context of similar complaints directed at Cohen. Nor was Cohen the first to be the target of such accusations.

On the onehand, it is an easy accusation for generals to throw at the secretary. On the other , generals must often pay a political price in order to disagree with the secretary. But no one should pretend that our generals are paragons of objectivity, politicized only by overbearing civilians.

Although politics within the military are not about conflicts between Democrats and Republicans, each of the services has its own agenda. In addition, ambitious generals often speak with the prospect of promotion in mind. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Retired generals are civilians and should feel to speak out just as any civilian would. The American public deserves to benefit from the expertise. What retired generals shouldn't do is present themselves as the tribunes of uniformed officers who are afraid to speak out. That tends to politicize the military-civilian relationship in a reckless manner.

By the way, Fogleman publicly supported the Bush campaign in 2000, along with many, many other retired generals.
(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
"I cannot spare this man, he fights," is what Lincoln said of General Grant. "I cannot spare this man, he reorganizes the footprint," is what Dubya should say about Don Rumsfeld. Almost all generals are far below Rummy in executive ability and simple intelligence. He hasn't made big mistakes, either. Nobody will ever know how many troops would have been optimal.
 
My objection is with the media (regardless of political leaning) not objectively questing the generals.
 
Questing should be questioning.
 
I have never questioned whether retired brass should criticize the civilian leadership of the DoD. Being retired, they are civilians and have the right to criticize anyone in government.

The question is whether the six retirees who have criticized Rumsfeld are correct in their analysis. And to judge that question, it is worth noting a difference in context between the criticisms of Cohen and the criticisms of Rumsfeld: Cohen did not lead us to a disaster in Iraq.
 
"it is worth noting a difference in context between the criticisms of Cohen and the criticisms of Rumsfeld: Cohen did not lead us to a disaster in Iraq."

Neither did Rumsfeld.
 
Duelling annoymouses.

What did Cohen do? That's right. Wasn't he the guy sitting around waiting for Bill to finish his golf game before Bill would say yes or no to a kill Osama mission. And, as I recall Bill said No.
 
Nice Russert intro Mr. Adesnik.
 
Retired generals are civilians and should feel to speak out just as any civilian would.

No they are not. They hold their commissions in the retired reserve and are paid accordingly. If they resign their commissinos they are civilians. I have no patience with these guys - they've decided to "speak out" becuase it is politically expedient to do so.
 
Post a Comment


Home